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The Marvel Universe

The Marvel Universe
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Mainstream Continuity, Earth-Prime, Earth-One[1], Earth-Two[1], "Earth-Earth"[2]
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HistoryEdit

Reality

Earth-616 has all the features of our reality: same countries, same personalities (politicians, movie stars, etc.), same historical events (World War II, 9/11, etc.), and so on. However, it also contains new ones, such as countries like Wakanda or Genosha, and organizations like the espionage agency, S.H.I.E.L.D. and its main enemy, Hydra. Earth-616 is the mainstream continuity of the Marvel multiverse, and where most of Marvel's comics take place.

Marvel NOW! by Ed McGuinness

Super Heroes and Villains

The tradition of using costumed secret identities to fight (or commit) evil had long existed in this world (for example, with the medieval Black Knight) but it came into prominence during the days of the American 'Wild West' with heroes such as the Phantom Rider. During the 20th Century, the tradition was reinvigorated, first by Captain America in the '40s (not the first costumed hero of the time, but the most influential) and then by the Fantastic Four in modern times.

Earth-616's major heroes (the ones who get involved in most of the important events) are the Amazing Spider-Man, the Invincible Iron Man, Doctor Strange the Sorcerer Supreme, Daredevil the Man Without Fear, the Mighty Thor, the Incredible Hulk, the Fantastic Four, S.H.I.E.L.D.’s director Nick Fury and Captain America. The Avengers and the X-Men are the biggest team players, although the memberships of both groups have often changed. The Avengers have included most of Earth-616's major heroes as members at one time or another. The X-Men consists of various mutants, such as Wolverine, Cyclops, and Beast brought together by Professor X. Dr. Strange has often formed an ad-hoc team of heroes called The Defenders to help him deal with major menaces to the world, often including the Hulk, the Sub-Mariner, the Silver Surfer and various other heroes.

Of course, as one would expect in a universe with superheroes, there would inevitably have to be crime and evil, and this universe is no exception. Arguably the most dastardly and dreaded villain in Earth-616 is Victor Von Doom, perhaps better known as Doctor Doom, archenemy of the Fantastic Four. He has the record of most heroes fought, having fought nearly every hero on Earth. Other major villains include Magneto, the mutant master of magnetism, and the mutant overlord Apocalypse, both archenemies of the X-Men; corrupt businessman Norman Osborn, the megalomaniacal Green Goblin, Doctor Otto Octavius, a.k.a Doctor Octopus, and Venom are all top archenemies of Spider-Man; Victor Creed, Sabretooth, archenemy of X-Men member Wolverine; the Kingpin of Crime Wilson Fisk, archenemy of Daredevil; Samuel Sterns a.k.a. The Leader and Emil Blonsky, the gamma-irradiated monster known as the Abomination, who are archenemies of the Incredible Hulk; the Dreaded Dormammu and Baron Mordo, archenemies of Doctor Strange; the Nazi Fascist Red Skull, archenemy of Captain America; the trickster god Loki, archenemy of Thor; the Mandarin, archenemy of Iron Man; Kang the Conqueror and Ultron, archenemies of the Avengers; and Mephisto, archenemy of both Ghost Rider and the Silver Surfer.

A degree of paranoid fear against mutants exists due to stories of mutants being a race or even a species (Homo superior or Homo sapiens superior) that is evolving and is meant to replace normal humans. This has caused organizations to form to deal with the problem, who can be divided into three camps: those who seek peaceful coexistence between mutants and normal humans (the X-Men and their affiliated groups), those who seek to control or eliminate humans to give mutants safety or dominance (Magneto and his followers, as well as other mutants such as Apocalypse), and those who seek to regulate or eliminate mutants in favor of humans. The latter often use the robots known as Sentinels as weapons.

Origin of superhuman powers

Most of the superhumans owe their powers to the Celestials, cosmic entities who visited Earth one million years ago and experimented on our prehistoric ancestors (a process they also carried out on several other planets). This resulted in the creation of two hidden races, the godlike Eternals and the genetically unstable Deviants, in addition to giving some humans an "x-factor" (no relation to team X-Factor) in their genes, which sometimes activates naturally, resulting in sometimes superpowered, sometimes disfigured individuals called mutants.

Others require other factors (such as radiation) for their powers to come forth. With the exception of psionic abilities, these powers are usually random; rarely do two people have the exact same set of powers. It is not clear why the Celestials did this, although it is known that they continue to observe humanity's evolution.[1] The majority of the public is unaware of what may cause superhuman powers.

Earth-616 0001

Other possible origins for superhuman powers include: magic, genetic manipulation or bionic implants. Some heroes and villains have no powers at all, but depend instead on hand-to-hand combat training or advanced technological equipment. Technology is slightly more advanced than in our world; this is due to unique individuals of genius intelligence, such as Reed Richards (Mister Fantastic) of the Fantastic Four, Tony Stark, the Invincible Iron Man, Bruce Banner, the Incredible Hulk, and Doctor Doom. However, most of the really advanced devices (such as powered armor and death rays) are too expensive for the common citizen, and are usually in the hands of government organizations like S.H.I.E.L.D., or powerful criminal organizations like the Maggia, A.I.M., and Hydra. One major company producing these devices is Stark International, owned by Anthony Stark (Iron Man), but there are others. Advanced technology has also been given to humans by hidden races, aliens, or time travelers like Kang the Conqueror, who is known to have influenced the robotics industry in the past.

  • The battery effect; the cells in the body have the same function as batteries, being charged with energy that comes from an outer source. This is most often seen in gamma exposed individuals as the Hulk, who get their powers from this stored energy. The powers will remain as long as the energy is present, and can even be increased by filling the "batteries" even more. If the energy is emptied, the powers will fade away.
  • Power Primordial is a leftover force from Big Bang, and is controlled by the Elders of the Universe.
  • Psionic energy, which is assumed to be an invisible, unknown form of energy generated by all living brains that has the ability to manipulate other forms of matter and energy.
  • Universal psionic field is a force present everywhere in the universe, but only those with abilities to connect to it can make use of its energy.
  • Enigma Force is suspected to be connected to the Microverse, and is also the source to the Uni-Power, which transform an individual into Captain Universe.
  • Extra-dimensional space: dimensions that can be tapped in order to pull mass from them (to add to objects on Earth) or taken away from those objects and be stored in those "pocket dimensions" to be retrieved later. This is how characters like the Hulk can grow and shrink with no visible absorption of mass. A type of subatomic particles called Pym Particles can be used for these effects. (Note that many giant-sized characters have the secret ability to manipulate gravity to handle their increased weight.) The change in mass can be in the form of a density change instead, allowing a character to become harder or incorporeal. Some characters can seem to "transform" themselves (or others) into nonliving substances, or even pure energy, by storing their bodies in extradimensional space and replacing them with bodies made from matter or energy from that dimension, while their souls remain on Earth, controlling their new body. Travel into other dimensions can also be used as a way to "teleport" by re-entering the Earth dimension at a different point from the existing one.
  • The Darkforce is an unknown, dark substance from another dimension (known simply as the Darkforce Dimension) that can be summoned and manipulated in many ways: to create impenetrable darkness, to solidify it in various forms, and (most notably) to absorb the "life energy" from living beings (not all users can use all these effects). The Darkforce can also be used to travel to and from its home dimension, but this is dangerous to all except those with Darkforce powers. Some believe that the Darkforce is sentient and sometimes has an evil influence on those who use it. Various heroes and villains have versions of Darkforce powers, including Darkstar, the first Blackout, the Shroud, Cloak and Quagmire (of the Squadron Supreme Universe). Cloak seems to be the prime 'portal' to the Darkforce, however.
  • The Living Light is the opposite of the Darkforce: a form of energy that resembles light and also comes from its own dimension, but has healing effects on living beings (except ones made of darkness or Darkforce). It is unknown if it might be sentient. Cloak's partner, Dagger seems to be the Living Light's main avatar.
  • The Power Cosmic is a force that can alter reality, allowing the user to do whatever he or she wants (including breaking the laws of physics), only being limited by how much cosmic energy the character can tap at a time. It seems to be part of the universe itself and it can be linked directly to Galactus as its primary wielder or even source. The Heralds of Galactus, including Silver Surfer and Nova are imbued with the Power Cosmic.
  • Magic also appears to be like a form of energy, except that it can defy the laws of physics naturally. However, it does have rules of its own to follow, which vary with the method of invocation, usually in the form of spoken spells. It appears to be present in everything, even living beings. All humans in the Marvel Universe have the ability to use magic, but only if properly trained. Most people are unaware that magic actually works. In addition, powerful magical beings from other dimensions have created specific, extremely powerful magical spells that they allow to be used (often indiscriminately) by those sorcerers who invoke their names; one example is the trinity of beings called The Vishanti, who serve as patrons to heroic sorcerers. At any given time, there is a sorcerer on Earth whose task is to protect the universe against extradimensional mystical invaders; this sorcerer is known as the Sorcerer Supreme, an office formerly held by Doctor Strange, and currently held by Doctor Voodoo.
  • "Hellfire" is a magical force that resembles fire, but is cold and hurts the soul rather than the physical body; it is used mostly by demonic beings.

Nonhuman races

In addition to mutants, Eternals and Deviants, several other intelligent races have existed secretly on Earth. These include: The Inhumans, another genetically unstable race (like the Deviants, but in their case its due to their use of a substance called 'Terrigen') which was created by a Kree experiment long ago; The Subterraneans, a race of humanoids adapted to living below the surface, created by the Deviants (some subterraneans were transformed into 'Lava Men' by a demon); and Homo mermanus, a humanoid race of water-breathers that lives in Earth's oceans. Most of these races have advanced technology but existed hidden from humanity until recent times. More variants of humanity can be found in the Savage Land (see the "Places"-chapter, below).

Alien races

There are hundreds of intelligent alien races. Earth has interacted with many of them due to the fact that a major "hyperspace warp" happens to exist in our solar system. The three major space empires are:

The three are often in direct or indirect conflict, which occasionally involve Earth people; in particular, the Kree and Skrulls are ancient enemies, and the Kree-Skrull War has involved humans on several occasions.

Another prominent alien race is the Watchers, immortal and wise beings who watch over the Marvel Universe and have taken a sacred vow not to intervene in events, though the Watcher assigned to Earth, Uatu, has violated this oath on several occasions.

The Elders of the Universe are ancient aliens who have often had great impact on many worlds, for billions of years, acting alone or as a group.

Many other races exist, and have formed an “Intergalactic Council” to have their say on matters that affect them all, such as interference from Earth humans in their affairs.

Supernatural creatures

Also abundant are legendary creatures such as gods, demons and vampires. The ‘gods’ of most polytheistic pantheons are actually powerful, immortal human-like races from other dimensions who visited Earth in ancient times, and became the basis of many legends (obviously not all such legends can be true, since they contradict scientific facts, as well as each other). Besides mythological gods, many deities made up by Marvel writers exist as well, such as the Dark Gods, enemies of the Asgardians. Note that many persons and beings have falsely pretended to be gods or demons during history; in particular, none of the ones claiming to be figures from Judeo-Christian beliefs (such as Satan, God, or the Angels) have turned out to be the real article.[2]

Similarly, demons are evil magical beings who take affairs in the matters of the universe, one of the most notorious being Mephisto. Others include Nightmare, D'Spayre, N'Astirah, Dormammu, and Shuma-Gorath.

Most of the current generation of gods have been revealed to be the descendants of the Elder Goddess Gaea. The two most prominent pantheons are the Asgardians (of whom Thor is a member) and the Olympians (of whom Hercules is a member). The lords of the various pantheons sometimes gather in groups known as the Council of Godheads or the Council of Skyfathers.

The gods were forced to stop meddling with humanity (at least openly) a thousand years ago by the Celestials, and most people today believe them to be fictional.

Cosmic entities

Above all other beings in the Universe are the cosmic entities, beings of unbelievably great levels of power (the weakest can destroy planets) who exist to perform duties that maintain the existence of the universe. Most do not care at all about "lesser beings" such as humans, and as a consequence their acts can occasionally be dangerous to mortals.

When dire threats threaten the universe it is not uncommon for these beings to gather together to discuss the threat, and even act.

Characteristics

Dimensions

Several Dimensions coexist simultaneously without affecting each other directly. There’s a score of such dimensions, ranging from the Earth-like to the totally alien. Some are magical in nature and others are scientific; some are inhabited and others are not. These include realities like the Microverse, Darkforce Dimension, the Mojoverse, and many more.

Time

Another noteworthy feature of this universe is that time "branches out" creating new alternate realities when certain important events happen. Those realities can also spawn realities of their own. There exists hundreds, probably thousands, or even millions of such realities. It is unknown why this happens, though a warp known as the Nexus of All Realities exists in a swamp in the Florida. For the most part this does not matter, as most beings are unaware that this occurs, or even that their universes were recently "born" from another. However, organizations exist that try to monitor or manipulate the various realities. These include the Captain Britain Corps, the Time Variance Authority, and Kang the Conqueror's forces. See Continuities, below.

Timeline

The following timeline describes the major events of Earth-616. Only major fictional historical events are listed here. Please note that few exact dates have been given for these events, so approximations are used instead. Note also that a sliding timescale applies to Earth-616, so that events involving its inhabitants can only be determined as having happened a certain number of years before whatever the current date is.[3]

Women of Marvel (by Bruce Timm)

Women of Marvel (by Bruce Timm)

Billions of years ago

The Big Bang (approximately 13.7 Billion years ago, according to current data): Prior to the formation of the current universe, another universe existed which was destroyed when the Dweller in Darkness fractured the M'Kraan Crystal, hoping to feast upon the fear that the impending doom would bring to the universe's population. The Phoenix Force, however, reached out to touch every living mind and united them in peace, foiling the Dweller's plan. In spite of this, the destruction of the universe could not be stopped, but Eternity, the sentience of the universe, selected one being - the last living man in that universe, Galan of Taa - to survive and live on, merging with him at the point of universal collapse. Then, initiated by the Living Tribunal, this cosmic egg exploded in the Big Bang (see Oscillatory universe), forming the current universe, and from the cosmic crucible, Galan emerged as Galactus, a key cosmic being in the existence of the current universe. Other cosmic beings (including Eternity (reborn) and Death) came into existence at or shortly after the beginning of the universe.

Several intelligent races evolved, but most died out, replaced by new ones as time passed by. Some, however, left behind a single, immortal survivor; these formed a loose brotherhood known as the Elders of the Universe.

One race achieved immortality and great power, but after an attempt to help two other civilizations that ended in their mutual destruction, decided not to interfere anymore, but only to record all events in the universe. They became known as The Watchers. Despite their oath, some have been involved in important events, such as the one appointed as Earth's Watcher, Uatu.

When life started to evolve on Earth (approx. 3 billion years ago) the Elder Gods were born from the planet's natural magical energies. However, most started devouring each other and devolved into demons. One who avoided this fate, Gaea the earth goddess, summoned the Demiurge, the planet's sentient biosphere, and mated with it, creating Atum, the sun god. Atum set about destroying the Elder Gods, but in doing so, he too became corrupted, and was transformed into the Demogorge, eater of gods. A small number of the Elder Gods, such as Chthon and Set, escaped by banishing themselves to other dimensions, and influenced mankind indirectly later on. Chthon left behind the Darkhold, a set of indestructible parchments (later bound into a book) whose black magic caused much evil through history. Only Gaea remained on Earth, where she would guide the evolution of life. Gaea, under many different guises, later become the mother goddess of Earth's second generation of gods. Demogorge then released the energies he had absorbed, returning to his form as Atum; these energies later led to the birth of the later generation of demons, such as Mephisto.

Millions of years ago

The mysterious cosmic beings known as Celestials began to experiment with the evolution of many intelligent beings across the universe, creating races such as the Kree and the Skrulls.

About one million years ago, the Celestials arrived on Earth and experimented on the ancestors of humanity. This experimentation created two new races, the Eternals and Deviants. The Celestials also used the Earth as a womb or egg to birth a new Celestial. They gave some humans the ability to develop super powers (thus providing the potential for the existence of mutants and other superhumans later on) that would manifest themselves around the time that the Celestial was supposed to be born. They did this with the intent of these superhumans protecting the Earth/egg from damage in order to ensure the Celestials' birth. However, millions of years later the humans, with the help of Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four, discovered this plan and successfully ended it. Around this same time Set had created a new race, the Serpent-Men, to be his agents on Earth. They approached the Celestials, but were rejected for experimentation. The Serpent-Men then became jealous of the humans and vowed themselves enemies of the human race.

The Skrulls discovered the Kree and the vegetated race, the Cotati, who shared the same home world, and gave them a test to see which of them were worthy of sharing their technology: whichever race created the better achievement would get it. The Kree created a city in Earth's Moon (in a 'Blue Area' that contained an Earth-like atmosphere and gravity) for this purpose. The Cotati created an ecosystem. The Kree lost the contest, so they killed the Skrull envoys and stole their technology. They abandoned the city, which would later become a base for Uatu. A century later, the Skrulls discovered what the Kree had done, but by that time, they had become a powerful space empire themselves. The two races have hated each other since and have been fighting wars almost constantly.

Tens of thousands of years ago

The Eternals underwent a series of civil wars. Some of them went on to colonize the planet Uranus and Saturn's moon, Titan. As a result, they missed being irradiated by an accidental explosion triggered by an experiment which turned all of the Eternals on Earth fully immortal. Their enemies, the Deviants, also developed advanced technology and created new races (such as the Subterraneans) and huge monsters that would lay dormant until modern times.

The Kree discovered the Eternals and decided to try to create their own superhuman race out of Earth's humans. The result of this experiment would become the race known as the Inhumans.

The first powerful human civilization developed in the continent of Atlantis. One of its first notable kings was King Kull, who helped to exterminate the Serpent Men. Later, Atlantis developed a highly technologically advanced civilization. They engaged in a war with the Deviants, who ruled the continent of Lemuria. The Atlanteans used weapons that drew upon their continent's geothermal energies, debilitating its geological foundations. When the Celestials returned to Earth, the Deviants tried to attack them, which resulted in the Celestials retaliating with an explosion so powerful it wrought havoc worldwide, sank Lemuria, and caused the unstable Atlantis to sink as well. Some Atlanteans managed to survive; some apparently adapted themselves to life underwater via unknown means; this process turned their skin blue and made them able to only breathe water, not air. These Atlanteans became the first Homo mermanus or Homo mermani.

Just prior to the sinking of the two continents, the Darkhold was used to create vampires, the first of which was Varnae. Around the same time, Set's worshipers created the Serpent Crown, a magical artifact of great power that allowed Set to influence its users.

As a result of the cataclysm caused by the Celestials, technology was lost to the human race for millennia, and they reverted to barbarism. During this period, the Hyborian Age, Conan, a descendant of Kull, became an unintentional champion of humanity, and later became king of the land of Aquilonia. One of the sorcerers of this era, Kulan Gath, eventually manifested in the present, along his enemy, Red Sonja. Most of the civilizations of the time eventually became ancestors to actual historical civilizations, like Egypt. (Note: Marvel no longer has the rights to use Kull, Conan or Sonja, but they haven't been officially erased from the continuity; they are just no longer cited by name. Gath, being a character created by Marvel, can still be used.)

Thousands of years ago

The second generation of gods appeared before mankind and were worshiped by pagan civilizations. Most of the legends involving them are true in the Marvel Universe, though not exactly in the form recorded in mythology. Similarly, the second generation of demons began to prey on humanity. Some pretended to be legendary infernal beings such as Satan.

The man who would become Kang the Conqueror traveled back in time to ancient Egypt. He took control of Egypt and ruled as "Pharaoh Rama-Tut" until deposed by the time traveling Fantastic Four. The West Coast Avengers and Doctor Strange were also present via time travel, and they influenced the course of the Fantastic Four's battle with Rama-Tut in their fellow heroes' favor. The immortal mutant En Sabah Nur, who would later become known as Apocalypse, was also present; he had been a slave in Rama-Tut's court, but was freed when his powers manifested themselves. At the time, he was unsuccessfully attempting to woo a member of the royal family named Nephra; when she rejected him, he in turn rejected humanity.

At least a thousand years ago, the Celestials returned to Earth and forced the gods to stop intervening in the development of human civilization.

6th century

The wizard Merlin helped King Arthur to establish the kingdom of Camelot, and mentored the Black Knight (Sir Percy of Scandia) to oppose the evil influence of Arthur's illegitimate son, the knight Mordred. In the end, Mordred and Morgan le Fay brought down Camelot, but were killed themselves in the process. (All of these people would later manifest, in various ways, in the present.) Iron Man and Doctor Doom were present at that time, following a battle and the treason of an employee of Doom. Iron Man allied himself with Arthur, and Doom with Morgan, but the two time travelers were eventually forced to work together to return to the present.

At some point prior to the fall of Camelot, Modred the Mystic (no relation to Mordred) was approached by Merlin (or an impostor) to study magic in Camelot. Modred was instead corrupted by the power of the Darkhold, and would lose his soul and his love but would gain near-immortality and a mastery of magic. He would battle Chthon and the Darkholders through the modern day, but would bear a deadly vendetta against Merlin and his allies.

15th century

The Transylvanian prince Vlad Tepes, better known as Dracula, was mortally wounded in battle with the legions of the Turkish warlord Turac. Turac hoped to heal Dracula and set him up as a puppet ruler, so he brought him to the gypsy healer Lianda. Lianda was actually a vampire in the service of Varnae; she transformed Dracula into a vampire, but was killed. Turac killed Dracula's wife Maria, prompting Dracula to fully embrace his vampiric power. Dracula bit Turac and ordered the warlord to return to Turkey to kill his own family, then killed Varnae's servant Nimrod for the title of "Lord of the Vampires". Dracula was then forced to drink Varnae's life's blood, giving him the ancient vampire's full power.

Dracula later waged a bloody war against the gypsies as revenge for Lianda's actions. One of those who he killed was the son of the witch Gretchen, who was, unknown to Dracula, caring for Dracula's exiled daughter Lilith. Gretchen cursed Lilith to become a vampire who would hunt Dracula until he was destroyed forever.

17th century

Dracula traveled to the New World, where he was drawn to a girl in Salem, Massachusetts. When the girl was killed by a jealous Puritan, Dracula used hypnosis on the slave Tituba, initiating the chain of events that would lead to the Salem witch trials. Several heroes from the modern day, including Spider-Man, were transported to the time of the trials by the time-traveling Dark Rider, but were unable to stop the Dark Rider in time to attempt to prevent the hanging of the trials' victims.

18th century

Events occurred that inspired Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein, although the Earth-616's version of Frankenstein's Monster is a generally heroic rather than the somewhat amoral character of the novel.

19th century

Many adventurers and criminals were active in North America's "Wild West", some of whom used costumed identities, such as the Two-Gun Kid, the original Ghost Rider (later renamed the Phantom Rider and succeeded by three other men), Kid Colt, the Outlaw Kid, the Apache Kid, and the Red Wolf. Other non-masked gunfighters of the era included the Rawhide Kid, the Gunhawks, the unrelated Gunhawk, and Caleb Hammer. All of these gunslingers, save for the Rawhide Kid, the Red Wolf, and the Gunhawk Reno Jones are known to have been murdered or killed in battle by the century's end. Most of them died in a blaze of glory in 1885, defending the town of Wonderment, Montana from the land-grabbing Nightriders. That said, the Two-Gun Kid is known to have used time travel to visit the present from a time before his death on at least two separate occasions; on the first such occasion, he joined the super-heroic Avengers. The ghost of Carter Slade (one of the last Phantom Riders) would later possess his modern-day ancestor, Lincoln Slade, who became the Phantom Rider.

In 1890, the events that inspired Bram Stoker's novel Dracula occurred, although Dracula survived the conclusion by transforming into mist when stabbed by Abraham van Helsing and his vampire hunters. Around the same time, Nathaniel Essex, a contemporary of Darwin, was transformed by Apocalypse, becoming Mister Sinister. His obsession for genetics led him to create numerous monstrous post-humans via surgery and genetic engineering.

Soon after, Dracula and Apocalypse fought one another in London. Apocalypse returned to suspended animation, where he would remain until the modern era, and Dracula was staked by van Helsing. Dracula was revived by none other than the Frankenstein's monster, and after the two fought, Dracula returned to and killed van Helsing. Van Helsing was survived by at least one child, and his granddaughter Rachel would fight Dracula in the modern era.

James Howlett, who would later call himself "Logan" and then "Wolverine", was born in the end of the 19th century.

Twentieth century

The first group of costumed heroes of this century were the Freedom's Five, a group of international heroes who gathered to fight the Germans during World War I. One of their number was the first hero to be called Union Jack; his brother was the German agent called Baron Blood, who had been transformed into a vampire by Dracula. Another member of the Five was the Phantom Eagle, whose ghost would be laid to rest in the modern era with the assistance of Johnny Blaze, the Ghost Rider. Jack Fury, father of Nick Fury, fought the Red Baron during the Great War.

World War II

Main article: World War II

Several costumed characters appeared in America before the United States entered World War II. The first was the Atlantean half-breed prince Namor the Sub-Mariner, whose dual surface-dweller and Atlantean heritage granted him superhuman strength and flight, and allowed him to breathe both air and water. However, this same heritage made him both a savior and enemy of mankind. Though often portrayed as a hero, he also waged several wars on Earth's above water populations. It was later discovered that Namor needed to have a specific amount of time under water in order to not go temporarily insane.

The second costumed character to arrive prior to WWII was the android Human Torch. These two heroes came into conflict with each other, but later became steadfast allies in the face of the Axis threat. Other heroes of this time included Red Raven, the original Ka-Zar, the Patriot (Jeff Mace), and the Hurricane (actually the Eternal Makkari).

The US Government secretly developed a project to create super soldiers to fight in the war, but it was sabotaged by a Nazi agent and the full formula was lost. An early prototype was used on a platoon of African American soldiers, all but one of whom (Isaiah Bradley) died. Only one soldier, Steve Rogers, was given the full super soldier treatment. Rogers was given the secret identity of Captain America to be a morale-boosting symbol. He would become one of the world's most influential heroes. Meanwhile, Isaiah Bradley was rendered brain-damaged following a near-fatal escape from a Nazi concentration camp after an apparent suicide mission, and Rogers would not learn of his existence for decades.

When America entered the war, Winston Churchill himself arranged for several heroes to form a team called The Invaders, to perform missions against the Axis Powers and their super agents. Several costumed villains had important roles among the Nazis. These include the Red Skull, Baron Zemo, Baron Strucker, Arnim Zola, Agent Axis, Master Man, and others. Most of them would survive to plague the heroes of the modern era.

In 1945, shortly before the Allies captured Berlin, the Red Skull was accidentally placed in a state of suspended animation, and in a separate incident Captain America was frozen in ice and his teenage sidekick Bucky was seemingly killed. Both men were soon secretly replaced by the US government to avoid lowering morale among the Allies. Soon after, the Allies advanced to Berlin, and the Invaders broke into Hitler's bunker. Although history would record it as suicide, Hitler was actually killed in self-defense by the Human Torch. Not long after the war ended, the first replacement Captain America was killed in action and was replaced by a post-war Captain America. The original Captain America and the Red Skull would both be revived in the modern era.

Post-World War II

A young man who would later assume the identity of Erik Lehnsherr was interned in the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp alongside his future wife Magda. The pair escaped, married, and had a daughter, Anya. When Anya was killed in an arson attack on their home, Erik used his mutant powers to kill the attackers, frightening away Magda, who was actually pregnant with twins at the time. The twins were born in the "1950s" on Mount Wundagore, and were placed into suspended animation for several decades by the High Evolutionary. They would eventually be given to the Transian gypsy Django Maximoff, who would raise them as his own. Erik would later become the super-villain called Magneto, and his children would become Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. Neither Magneto nor his children would learn of this relationship until the modern era.

After the war, most of the Invaders remained active as a group called the All-Winners Squad, though they eventually disbanded and, with Citizen V and several of their allies in the Liberty Legion, formed the core of the new V-Battalion. The Human Torch was rendered inert for decades after the "1950s", and the Sub-Mariner was rendered an amnesiac following the destruction of much of Atlantis by the Set-controlled mesmerist Paul Destine ("Destiny").

During the "mid-1950s", a new Captain America and Bucky appeared. These men were devoted anti-Communists who took the real names of their namesakes as their own. They fought a new Soviet-sponsored Red Skull and various other threats from beyond the Iron Curtain. The experimental super-soldier process that had created them made them mentally unstable, so they were placed in suspended animation until the modern day, where they were revived by the original Captain America. This Captain America would later become the Grand Director of the Secret Empire, while this Bucky would recover and become the superhero Nomad.

Several new heroes were active during the "1950s", including Marvel Boy, the 3-D Man, and the goddess Venus. In an alternate reality, some of them formed a short-lived team known as "The Avengers". This reality was wiped out by Immortus before it progressed into the 1960s. That particular grouping may have also existed in the main Marvel Universe, but if so, they were never called "The Avengers".

There was also a team of heroes active some time after World War 2 until 1985, known as the First Line, but their existence was mainly kept secret from the general public. Most of them died battling Skrulls. Another team active during this period was the Monster Hunters, who battled monsters of alien and Deviant origins across the globe. However, their exploits are not well known today because a conspiracy called CONTROL tried to keep the existence of aliens and the supernatural from the general public, and succeeded for many years.

During the Cold War, a joint US/Canadian task force that was later code-named "Team X" was formed. This group of spies and assassins included the men who would become Wolverine, Sabretooth, Maverick, and others. Subsequently, the Weapon Plus Project, which had supported the creation of the Super Soldier Project that had created Captain America, started a new iteration of its Weapon program. The Tenth Weapon program (Weapon X) resulted in the implantation of adamantium in Wolverine's body and the creation of many false memories in him and the other Team X/Weapon X agents.

About ten years prior to the modern era, six couples were teleported to the lair of the demonic Gibborim, who offered six of the twelve a chance to gain power and immortality should all twelve assist the Gibborim in destroying humanity in the future. All agreed, and became The Pride. When one of the couples discovered that they were pregnant, the other couples decided to follow suit and have one child apiece, with each couple granting their eventual power and immortality to their sole offspring. In the modern era, these children would rebel against their parents and become the Runaways.

Modern heroic era

This started officially with the public debut of the Fantastic Four. Spider-Man, The Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, Daredevil and the X-Men soon followed. Some of these heroes joined to form the Avengers. These would become Earth's Mightiest Heroes. Many events would go on to occur from here on. For a list of several of the most important events that happened in a period of about 14 years until "today", see Major Events of the Marvel Universe. To see most of the original events in their supposed chronological order, see Marvel Universe Reading Order


Places

Certain places, some of which exist in real-life and some of which are fictional, figure prominently in the Marvel Universe.

New York City

Most of the action of Marvel Comics takes place in New York City.

New York City is the site of many places important to superheroes:

New York City is a center of industry, serving as the headquarters of:

Two universities are also especially prominent in the Marvel Universe:

Other locations

Regions and Countries

Planets

Extradimensional places

Artifacts

Some items have been created specifically for the Marvel Universe and carry immense powers:

Other objects

Culture & Media

TV

  • "Lacuna with the Stars" - talk show hosted by "8th X-Statix" Lacuna, wherein she reveals celebrities' secrets.
  • X-Statix Pay-Per-View events.

Films

  • Fantastic Four (in-universe movie) - movie about the family of superpowered adventurers.
  • Spider-Man (in-universe movie) - movie about the famous superhero.

Print Publications

Trends

  • "Magneto was right" - after Magneto was believed dead in the Genoshan holocaust, he became a popular t-shirt logo and graffiti image.
  • Mutant culture - in the time leading up to M-Day, mutant fashion, music, and art became very popular.
  • "Tony was right/Cap was right" t-shirt logos popularized after the Civil War.
  • "Cyclops was right" - a popular t-shirt logo and movement based on Cyclops point of view on how humanity treated mutantkind.

Commercial Products

  • Doop key-chains and plush toys.

Notable Figures

Politicians

Businessmen

Scientists

  • Dr. Reed Richards - world-renowned scientist.
  • Dr. Hank Pym - world-renowned scientist.
  • Dr. Bruce Banner - world-renowned scientist.
  • Dr. Henry McCoy - pre-eminent mutant biologist, also known as The Beast of the X-Men.
  • Dr. Kavita Rao - world-renowned geneticist.
  • Dr. Bolivar Trask - noted anthropologist, creator of the Sentinels. Abducted by a Sentinel from a televised debate with Professor Charles Xavier, Trask sacrificed him, sacrificed himself fighting his own creation.
  • Max Modell - world-renowned scientist, head of Horizon Labs.
  • Peter Parker M.Sc. - creative engineer of Research and Development department Lab 7 at Horizon Labs. Creator of the Cryo Cube 3000, Noise Reduction Headphones, Retardant Gel, etc. Former photographer for the Daily Bugle. Won the Pulitzer Prize for his photo of the Sentry (whether this is now widely known is unclear).

Art and Entertainment Figures

  • Alison Blaire - recording artist.
  • Jumbo Carnation - mutant fashion designer.
  • Lila Cheney - British singer/musician with the band Cat's Laughing.
  • Henrietta Hunter - mutant British pop star. Murdered but returned from the dead to raise money and awareness for AIDS, landmines, and eating disorders. Formerly a short-term leader of the X-Statix.
  • Rick Jones - Popular recording artist and author of the book "Sidekick"; former sidekick.
  • Sugar Kane - British pop idol, former girlfriend of Chamber
  • Lacuna - host of talk show "Lacuna with the Stars." Called the "8th X-Statix."
  • Alicia Masters - famous blind sculptress. Former girlfriend of Ben Grimm (Thing)
  • Madeline Naylor - famous stage actress. (Mother of Speedball.)
  • O-Force - fad mutant team whose membership was decided by television viewers' phone-in votes.
  • MJ Watson - famous model and aspiring actress.
  • X-Statix - very popular team of celebrity mutants with short life spans.
  • Betsy Braddock - descendant of British aristocrats; former fashion model and celebrity.

Members of the Press

Government Agents

Others

Organizations

Corporations

Charity, Volunteer, and Outreach Organizations

  • Captain America's Hotline - a nationwide phone service that lets civilians contact Captain America with information pertaining to national security or crises beyond the scope of conventional authorities. Established using Captain America's back pay since World War II. Stars and Stripes, a network of volunteer data processors, scan the messages and forward them to Captain America, based on suitability, location and urgency.
  • Excelsior - support group of former teen superheroes that helps their peers make the transition to a civilian lifestyle. Founded by Phil Urich and Michiko "Mickey" Musashi. Bankrolled by Rick Jones.
  • Mutantes Sans Frontières - charity organization run by Warren Worthington III.
  • X-Corporation - outreach program that provides rescue, relief and refuge to mutants, with embassies in Amsterdam, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Mumbai, Nairobi, New York, Paris, and Singapore. After M-Day, several embassies were bombed, so all of X-Corporation has been evacuated to the X-Mansion in Salem Center, NY.
  • Hellfire Club - international social club for the social elite and wealthy.
  • Maria Stark Foundation - non-profit organization uses donated funds to finance various charities and renovation projects, as well as the Avengers.

Landmarks

Government Agencies

  • S.H.I.E.L.D. - founded to combat technologically advanced threats on world security, S.H.I.E.L.D. has, throughout the years, remained on the frontlines fighting terrorism and extraterrestrial menaces working as an international intelligence agency.
  • H.A.M.M.E.R. - created by Norman Osborn as a S.H.I.E.L.D.'s replacement. Currently became a terrorist organization.
  • S.W.O.R.D. - counter terrorism and intelligence agency which deals with extraterrestrial threats to world security.
  • A.R.M.O.R. - extradimensional security agency to guard against contamination and conflict from alternate realities.
  • S.T.R.I.K.E. - British intelligence agency dedicated to dealing with threats beyond the remit of the regular intelligence services.
  • O*N*E* - government agency created to protect/observe the X-Men and the remaining mutants after the M-Day, which reduced the number of mutants on Earth to a very few hundred.
  • X.S.E. - paramilitary police force charged with keeping the peace between mutants and humans. X.S.E. was founded by Storm at the behest of the United Nations in order to police the growing mutant population.

Criminal

Education

Retail Outlets

  • Fantastic Four Gift Shop and Museum - located on the ground floor of the Baxter Building.

Restaurants

  • Planet X-Force - chain of Planet Hollywood-style theme restaurants devoted to the celebrity mutant team X-Force, later X-Statix. With the original name and then the actual team retired, the status of these is unknown.

Pharmaceuticals/Narcotics


NotesEdit

  • Marvel tries to explain most superpowers and their sources scientifically, usually through the use of pseudo-scientific concepts.

TriviaEdit

  • The central concept of the Marvel Universe is that it is just like the real world, except that superheroes (and super-villains) exist. It is more than just that, however. The Marvel Universe includes examples of most major science fiction and fantasy concepts, and writers keep adding more continuously. Further, these concepts are often (though not always) developed in ways that don't contradict each other, but instead form a unified background. This concept is fairly rare; another example of a fictional universe that seeks to use all types of fantastic elements is the DC Universe.
  • The numerical designation for realities, and the assignation of 616 to the core reality, occurred during Alan Moore's run on Captain Britain, Vol. 2 in the 1980's. Alan Moore has confirmed that, contrary to popular belief, there is no particular significance to the number (one popular rumor suggests that it has something to do with the date of the release of the first Fantastic Four issue in 1961). There is considerable irony in the fact that the "primary" Marvel reality has been assigned a number quite a way down the scale.
  • It must be noted that, due to the fact that Marvel's publishers do not want to allow their characters to age, the setting of the stories has to be updated every few years; Marvel's major heroes were created in the 60's, but the heroes have only been allowed to age about a decade in that time. Unlike DC Comics, who uses the idea that interference with time by villains caused reality to reboot a few times, Marvel simply assumes that the stories happen in the space of years instead of decades; this is known as a sliding timescale. Thus, the events of previous stories are considered to have happened within a certain number of years prior to the publishing date of the current issue. Where stories reference real-life historic events, these references are later ignored or rewritten to suit current sensibilities. For example, the origins of Iron Man and Professor X were recently changed to refer to armed conflict in Afghanistan, where they had originally referred to southeast Asia and the Korean War and there have been numerous references to Spider-Man's four decade history taking place within the space of five years. However, there are a few exceptions to the sliding timescale policy. This is usually when characters are tied inextricably to a certain time period. The most notable example of this is Captain America. Captain America has remained a World War 2 hero for his entire existence. Marvel has devised several different ways to get around him aging, but openly admits he's been an adventurer for over sixty years.
  • The Marvel Comics company itself exists within the Marvel Universe, and versions of people such as Stan Lee and Jack Kirby have appeared in some of the stories. The entire 1977 Marvel Bullpen appeared in Fantastic Four #176, where Reed Richards convinces Stan Lee to make a comic book about The Impossible Man to stop his tantrum. The Marvel of this reality publishes comics that adapt the actual adventures of the superheroes (except for details not known to the public, like their secret identities).
  • It is possible that 4 years of comics in our universe are the equivalent of 1 year in this universe, as it is revealed in 2013's Indestructible Hulk that the 2008's Skrull Secret Invasion happened one year ago. This would mean that from 1961 (the debut of Fantastic Four #1 and the beginning of the "Age of Heroes") to 2013, only 13 years have passed in this universe.

For Alternate Universes, Dimensions, and Pocket Universes, see: Multiverse.

Marvel Logo

Footnotes

  1. A Marvel series called Earth X explored one possible reason: that superhumans are meant to protect a Celestial that is "growing" inside Earth; but this series repeatedly contradicts previously established Marvel continuity.
  2. This is obviously a conscious decision on Marvel Comics' part.
  3. In general, most recent sources place Fantastic Four #1 (the beginning of the Silver Age of Comic Books, and of the modern Marvel Universe) as having occurred 13 years ago as of Indestructible Hulk #3 (January 2013). Alternately the sliding time scale can be fixed at the millennium if historical events in the 20th and 21st century do not take place at the same they do in the real universe. See Marvel Time and also Marvel Universe Reading Order.


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